Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FLASH REVIEW: Upgrade Complete

Upgrade Complete is a flash game from Armor Games. It takes about 20 minutes to get through the full experience, but it was 20 minutes well spent.

Ostensibly the game makes a commentary on video gaming as a whole and the upgrading aspect many games employ to allow players to customize and power up their experience. Really it's a shmup with a lot of upgrading. You can upgrade the entire game really, from the graphics to the menu.

The game starts you off with nothing. You don't even have the actual shmup available to you at first. Instead, you have to use the 1000 credits they use to upgrade the game with gameplay. After this, you continue grinding through each wave of enemies, gaining credits from each enemy you kill until you can afford to upgrade all the other aspects of the game.

Part of the charm is starting with Atari style graphics and moving up to something much flashier and detailed. In a way it made me think about how little graphics have to do with a game. The upgraded graphics did little to enhance the gameplay so I probably spent a lot more time with the Atari graphics, grinding to get enough credits to upgrade the rest of my game.

The game play has enemies falling towards your ship and your ship has limited mobility. I found that the most effective thing was to cover as large of an area as I could in order to lay siege to as many enemies as possible. While you can get stuck on a wave, you only need to upgrade your ship in order to catch those two enemies that always fall by on the left side. Eventually, you'll also discover that Upgrade Complete can be a bit of a grind. You have to earn enough credits to upgrade your game, but you also have to earn credits to upgrade your ship to progress through the waves. This means that repeating waves after failing them will only continue to build up your stockpile of money.

Of course, Upgrade couldn't possibly keep you from upgrading the ship you pilot in the gameplay when it offers upgrades for every other aspect of the game. This ends up being one of the more intricate parts of the game, especially since you can add extra missile launchers instead of upgrading your current missile launcher. I ended up spending the cash on the regular guns and spreading them out as far as I could. Then I upgraded my lighting gun to catch any enemies that slipped past me and my cannons.

I'd recommend Upgrade Complete to anyone with a sense of humor and some time to waste. It's fun, not particularly addictive and entertaining for the time it takes. This means you can pick it up, play it through, maybe use it in a conversation about video games, and then never think about it again. You can check out Upgrade Complete for free at Armor Games:


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